There Has To Be A Beginning
The long shiny black Cadillac slowed to nearly a stop as it left the graveled country road and turned into the temporary driveway at the site where the new house was going to be built.. Before coming to a stop, the Caddy maneuvered around a stack of 2 x 6 tongue-and-groove decking, the only thing that was visible on the entire lot.
After parking well beyond the stack of lumber, the driver of the shiny Cadillac got out and went to the trunk and took out his carpenter’s tool belt and hooked it around his waist.
Without even looking at my watch, I knew it was 8 o’clock and time to go to work, because Jess Shephard was never late. And when his belt went on he had one thing in mind–“Let’s get this building up”.
With a few casual morning greetings we went into our routine; shovel and sledge hammer out of the truck, and marking stick in hand, we began to plot the house by laying out where the foundation would be.
We had performed this same ritual so often that we probably could have done most of our work while sleeping, and by the end of the day the forms for the foundation would be ready to pour with concrete, and by the fourth day on the job the deck for the floor would be laid.
Twenty one days from the first day Jess drove his Caddy onto the bare lot, we would drive away from a completely framed house ready for the finishing touches.
In all the years that I worked along side that master carpenter, we never once started the construction of a house any other way.
Not once did we start building the family room or kitchen first. Nor did we begin with the roof and rafters. No–it was always the foundation.
You know the strange thing about the whole thing is that I can’t ever remember arguing with Jess about changing the method. Not once did I try to skip the foundation so we could get on with the good stuff. You know–lay the carpet, light the fireplace and turn the T.V. on. Forget all this foundation business–who needs it.
I find it interesting that after thirty-five years I’m still in the construction business–still laying down foundations and putting up walls. Only now it’s for God and His kingdom.
However, working for Jess years ago was certainly a simpler and less complicated process. It was so understandable; foundation first; then the walls and roof.
Not so in the church, even though Paul very plainly related our spiritual life and growth to that of a building. In the Charismatic churches especially, it’s the power gifts that we desire.
Throw up a set of walls (gifts, prayer for sick, teaching and preaching) on any old mud patch and you have “Joe Christian doing his thing”.
This is my forty second year since I began working in the gospel ministry, and after that long I don’t get much of a thrill out of the “flash ministries”–those that have grown up as in a hot house. So quick of a development that their foundation or character was never formed properly. Sadly it’s just a matter of time, as is stated in Matt. 7:26, that the house falls down.
With this in mind, let me point you to your most important foundation stone. The one my mother and father taught me long before they taught me to sing and preach. Even before I had a knowledge or love for prayer or the gifts of the Spirit. This stone is so important that without it the entire house (or your spiritual life) can be shaken if the right storm or circumstance comes your way.
Jesus directs our attention to it in Matt. 27:37 when He tells us that the first commandment is to love the lord our God with all our heart.
A clear and pure love for God is your essential beginning. Without this strong and identifiable foundation in your life, you will continue to be sent back again and again, seemingly to start over. This may be the greatest single reason for so many Christians who, after years of frustrating Christian service, quit and walk away because of their inability to ever grow in God.
The outward expression of our Christian life will change as the church develops in God, and even our personal methods of worship and expressions of Jesus will change as we continue to know Him. But the one magnificent thing that will always remain constant is the foundation of our love for God.
As we begin this New Year, reexamine and reestablish your relationship and understanding of your love for God. This is the beginning; this is where we all start. With this in place and healthy, we can expect good growth and prosperity in our Christian life and peace in all that we do.
Welcome to this exciting year
Pick and Shovel Crew